The Philadelphia Eagles have been exceedingly lucky in the first month of the season. In fact, Eagles fans like myself were just a couple of points away from probably running Michael Vick and Andy Reid out of town already. Instead, three wins by a combined four points this month have kept Philadelphia on track - although the luckiest breaks may have come against the New York Giants on Sept. 30.
Technically, the Eagles played their best game of the season by far, with no turnovers, a dangerous running attack and Michael Vick not making any dumb mistakes. Yet it still took a lot of luck to survive the Giants and their own missed opportunities, although the Birds still pulled out a 19-17 win by inches.
The Eagles were shut down on offense for much of the first half, but it was okay since the defense more than carried the load. Then when both defenses faltered in the second half, Philadelphia moved the ball much better - and even let LeSean McCoy run it. However, the Eagles moved the ball so well that their lack of touchdowns was even more disappointing.
Philadelphia still carried a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, yet New York erased it in no time with an overwhelming five-play touchdown drive. Eli Manning was once again in his fourth quarter element while the Eagles' secondary was completely outmatched, setting the stage for Vick to have to save the day again.
Like he did against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, Vick marched the Eagles down the field in the final minutes. But unlike in those comeback wins, Vick couldn't punch the ball into the end zone. The Eagles' red zone failures came back with a vengeance on this night, when one touchdown or two would have put the Giants out of reach. Instead, Alex Henery could only put Philadelphia up by 19-17 with a fourth second half field goal.
This made the Eagles have to sweat out the Giants' final drive. It started in good field position, thanks to David Wilson capping off a night where he had 217 return yards. As such, all Manning really needed was two or three first downs to all but seal the win - and he got two first downs on controversial pass interference calls with the game on the line. But when New York committed its own controversial pass interference penalty at the goal line, it left Lawrence Tynes right on the edge of his field goal range.
Reid almost sealed an ugly fate in Philadelphia by calling a timeout before Tynes missed his first attempt. Yet on his second, Tynes was just inches shy of getting the ball over the goalpost. He would have made it if the kick was from 52 or 53 yards instead of 54 - and that is how close the Eagles came to suffering a crushing loss.
Philadelphia played its best game of the year, and still almost paid for kicking too many field goals, having late defensive lapses, committing debatable penalties and using questionable game management. One of those days or nights, the Eagles won't need luck like this to win a game, but that day/night seems further away than ever now.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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